Burn out, bullying, sexual harassment — the American workplace is not looking too great. This is according to a new study by Harvard Medical School, the nonprofit RAND Corporation, and UCLA. Titled “The American Working Conditions Survey,” the study recorded the experiences of 3,066 U.S. workers.
The results? People are not pleased with their jobs.
Prior studies have found that three-fourths of today’s employees believe that they are under more stress than those in previous generations, but this study sheds even more light on the subject. According to Las Vegas Review-Journal, researchers found that one-in five workers face a hostile or threatening work environment, 55% said that they work in “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions, and about half said that they need to work off the clock to meet job demands.
“I was surprised how taxing the workplace appears to be, both for less-educated and for more-educated workers,” Nicole Maestas, lead author of the study and associate professor of health care policy at Harvard said in a statement. “Work is taxing at the office and it’s taxing when it spills out of the workplace into people’s family lives.”
According to the study, workers often have to adjust their home and personal lives to accommodate for work, yet one-third say they are unable to change their work schedule to accommodate personal matters. And the study also found that eight out of ten workers had to be physically present in their workplace during business hours.
With strains like this, many experts who study and write about work predict that telecommuting will become the new norm. Andrea Loubier writes in Forbes that telecommuting is not an “annoying milliennial trait.” It may actually help us work more productively and happily while protecting our health and relationships.
“With none of the distractions from a traditional office setting, telecommuting drives up employee efficiency,” Loubier writes. “It allows workers retain more of their time in the day and adjust to their personal mental and physical well-being needs that optimize productivity. Removing something as simple as a twenty minute commute to work can make all world of difference.”
For example, with more than 69% of Americans reporting that lower-back pain affects their daily lives, remote employees could get up for a long stretch without the fear of doing downward-dog in the middle of the office.
Could it be that simple? With worker satisfaction so low, it might be worth a try.
“It’s become a way of life, disrupting the traditional workplace as we know it with employees who are happier and more productive,” Loubier writes. “Time to consider these benefits. Share the data and ask your current employer about the possibilities of telecommuting with the positive impact that works in favor of both the business and the worker.”